Wolves, Cardiff, Bristol, Derby and Sheffield United join Middlesbrough, Villa and Fulham as our ones to watch

no slide rule needed

Let’s go back to the start of the season (and don’t we wish we could).

I polled our readers as to who would make the top six. These clubs came up favourite ( in the order given) and I began tracking them and reporting on their progress from time to time:


Aston Villa


Sheffield Wednesday


and Sunderland

By Christmas, if not earlier, it was obvious some changes were needed.

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A champion Championship series: the first time Sixer saw your ground or your team

Sixer tastes the tropical flavour of a County Durham winter as he delivers the papers

Most weeks, readers of Salut! Sunderland drop by on Friday morning to catch the latest instalment in Pete Sixsmith’s twin series, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Ground (if the game in question is away), Team (if it’s at the Stadium of Light).

This week, the Millwall edition was posted earlier than usual – namely at this link.

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The first time ever I saw your team: Derby County

The newly slimline version of Pete Sixsmith has obviously been reading Salut! Live‘s interesting series Cover Story, comparing different versions of the same songs – health warning: mainly folk or folk-rock). He should actually be contributing to it.

Since it was written by a folkie, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, has been mentioned. Sixer adapts the song title to revive memories of when he first saw us up against the opponents we will face in the Championship. He may well turn it into a regular feature …

The season kicks off on Friday night
with the visit of Derby County, once of the Baseball Ground now of Pride Park or whichever company has attached their name to this decent stadium, within walking distance of the excellent Brunswick Inn and the railway station.

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The Sunderland vs Derby County ‘Who are You?’: a man in the know

Nick Britten: not really as handsome as he seems. And his wife, charming as she is, likes the colour of the shirt stripes

Monsieur Salut writes:
Nick Britten* has written a column for the Derby County matchday programme for 16 years. I think we both wrote for our respective club programmes about the time he rescued me from the A38 (update: oops – Nick corrects me and says it was the A50, and he should know) after the Sunderland SAFCSA London branch’s dozy coach driver got us all stuck in the not-very-hard shoulder mud on the way back from the Old Trafford FA Cup semi-final vs Millwall.

Oh, and he married a Mag. Read on for a knowledgeable Derby fan’s view of how his team and ours stand at the start of the new season, his thoughts on Grayson and his predicted scoreline for the opening game at the SoL on Friday night (maybe skip that bit) … but all in all, a great start to the 2017-2018 Who are You? series

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Beauty or beast: prize Guess the Score as Grayson’s ‘different animal’ faces Derby County

Jake: ‘allow Monsieur Salut to introduce another season of Guess the Score competitions’

A new season beckons and we’re raring to go, full of optimism and excitement, our confidence nourished by the knowledge that Sunderland AFC are in the safest of hands.

No pre-season calamities, no breaking of ranks or signs of dressing room dissent, no one facing disciplinary action before the league programme even starts. And everything points to Simon Grayson holding on to the few remaining players of real quality.

That’s the fantasy out of the way. Can we now settle down to a start to the season that at least makes us look capable of competing at Championship level?

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The Championship cometh: we start with Derby, end with Wolverhampton

Sixer: ‘can I just lick ice cream instead of fretting about the season ahead?’

Monsieur Salut writes: so now we know the who and the when of our Championship opponents for the coming season. We haven’t the faintest idea who will be managing Sunderland, owning Sunderland or playing for Sunderland except that – news update – it won’t apparently be Fulwell73, but the fixtures list doesn’t wait for such trivialities to be resolved. I believe we’re entitled to reproduce the full list these days and will do so in due course. For now, Pete Sixsmith casts an entertaining eye over the good, the bad and the ugly of the season to come – and it’s here in full at the Sunderland Echo site …

The fixtures have arrived. We know where we are going and when. We can start to plan our holidays (a week in Barnsley anyone?) and decide which trips are do-able (Sheffield United on Boxing Day) and which aren’t (Ipswich Town on a Tuesday night – [who are these clowns to allow such a thing – Ed?].

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After Derby debacle, thank heavens Mika’s only on bench at West Ham

Pete Sixsmith: 'can't stop. Just completing the signing of 11 new players'
Pete Sixsmith: ‘can’t stop. Just completing the signing of 11 new players’

Keeping goal is sometimes a thanked task but, as often, a thankless task. Humans err and this applies to goalkeepers at all levels, as Monsieur Salut and Pete Sixsmith can confirm from personal experience, albeit long ago. Sixer now describes how what happened to us down the rec (Shildon’s splendid recreation ground) or on the playing fields of King James I Grammar and Woodhouse Close Sec Mod can also happen to a Portuguese pro …

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